Are we becoming a nation of renters?

Are we becoming a nation of renters?

Ever since the financial crisis struck down the UK property market in late 2007 and early 2008, buying a home has become more expensive and problematic for people nationwide. As a result, the rentals sector has strengthened time and again, with more and more people renting, not just because of price, but because it is more convenient, particularly for young professionals. 

It has led to speculation from some sources that the UK property sector is changing, moving away from the idea that home ownership is one of life's major milestones and towards a reality like that seen in Europe and the US, where the majority of people will rent for life. 

And this theory has been strengthened further this week by a new survey published by Ocean Finance, which claims that almost three-quarters of people who have not already bought a home may never do so. 

Only 28 per cent of respondents to its survey said that they would like to be able to purchase their own property in the future and feel that they will be able to do so. 

Another 40 per cent of those questioned said that while they would like to be able to buy a home some day, they don't feel like they will ever be able to afford to do so. 

The other 32 per cent said that they currently rent and are happy to continue to living in this way, with no intention to buy down the line.

The fact alone that 72 per cent of people who don't currently own a house are saying they never expect to or don't want to certainly suggests that the UK is moving much closer to the same sort of rental model seen on the continent. 

"Home ownership is already at a 25 year low and our survey suggests that this figure is likely to continue to fall. While four in ten people still say they’d like to own a property one day, they already seem resigned to not being able to do so," said Ian Williams, spokesman for Ocean Finance.

So why are more and more people now seeing their future in the private rented sector? One reason, of course, is affordability. In London, for example, a new buyer who wants to get themselves a home needs to be able to fork out an average of £68,000 for a deposit alone. 

While Help to Buy is assisting some people with getting onto the ladder for less at the current time, looking forward this will not be the case. When Help to Buy comes to an end, cheap mortgages that we saw in the past will not be available and people will be facing up to paying a deposit of 75 per cent. This is likely to turn most away, as it can take a number of years to save up.

On the other hand there are those who simply like to rent rather than buy. Normally young professionals, these people see the rental market as giving them the freedom to move when they need to, which can be great if they get a job in a new area. 

Renting will often also mean that they don't need to worry about maintenance of their property and will not need to buy their own furniture, something that can be a real bonus for those looking for a convenient way to live. 

Whatever the reason, however, the fact is that more and more people are now renting, and it looks like this will only continue to be the reality down the line.